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Earthquake Preparedness  Hints

Family,  Business & Neighborhood



  • Communications after an earthquake may not be working properly or maybe only partially.
  • Local calling on regular telephone lines may be totally out of order for days after a major earthquake.
  • If your phone line is still working - you may be able to call out "long distance" to a relative or contact out of state. We advise that you pre-arrange at least 2 out of state contact people to be your communication point persons so members of your family can notify them if possible of their after-quake status.
  • Cell phones worked better than land-lines in the last major quake we had in the Bay Area because they used different pathways to get out. However it is not certain that would be the case in the future.
Walkie Talkies
  • Inexpensive Family Radio Service band (FRS) walkie talkies are available from local retailers and online. These generally offer limited area communication capabilites of 2 to 5 miles in distance. They are available as battery operated or rechargeable models. A list of the Walkie Talkie models commonly available in this area is on our "manuals" page here.
  • There are several manufacturers of these handheld devices - all are roughly about the same though the ones will smaller batteries allow for less talk-time - keep that in mind when choosing your models.
  • Costco, Walmart, Target and Fry's all carry various inexpensive models  of FRS walkie talkies.

Walkie Talkie User Tips:

  • Practice using yours with other family members  or friends before an emergency.
  • All units in your family must be on the same channel in order to communicate with each other.
  • Only one person may be talking on the channel at a time - if both users or multiple users are pressing the "talk" button at once, they are blocking each others' communications.
  • All users on the open channel can hear everything that is said on the open channel, keep that in mind when reporting bad news or anything else ....for this reason, using "G"rated language is preferable.
  • Store your walkie talkies with the batteries removed
  • Place spare batteries in a ziplock baggie to preserve battery life. They are very easy to pop back into the walkie talkie in a hurry if needed.
  • Buy extra batteries for the size of walkie talkies you have - remember this may be your only means of communication for a week or more after a quake. Or you may be interested in a Solar Charger if you have chosen one of the rechargeable battery models.
USGS Earthquake Notifer via email, pager or cell phone
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